Robert Motherwell


Robert Motherwell (1915-1991), alongside Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Willem de Kooning, made up the quartet of American abstract painters that radically defined Modern painting and established New York City as the center of the art world for the second half of the 20th century.

While compared to his peers, Motherwell's works are arguably the most challenging for the uninitiated. 

Nevertheless, he was the unofficial spokesman of the New York School, writing and lecturing prolifically on behalf of the movement, his fellow artists, and the merits of abstraction. (Before devoting himself to painting, Motherwell had started a PhD at Harvard in philosophy. In addition to his talents as an artist, he was incredibly articulate.) 

As a passionate lover of poetry, Motherwell compared his own visual language to that of poetry. One of his favorite poets and dear friends was Octavio Paz. Originally from Mexico, Paz was an essayist, poet, and Nobel Prize Winner. The two shared a mutual admiration for one another and after each dedicating works to the other they decided to collaborate. Together they produced Three Poems (1987-1988), a suite of 27 lithographs with accompanying poetry by Paz translated into English. 

"Red Samurai" from the Octavio Paz Suite of lithographs, is a paradigm of Motherwell's oeuvre: an aggressive black form with explosions and slashes radiating out from it. This is one of Motherwell's most potent images, invoking elements of sexuality in the phallic abstract form and violence through the title and bright red background. 

While it is nearly impossible to decipher any trace of figuration in Motherwell's oeuvre, he was inspired by and referenced literature, politics and the canon. 

Motherwell's aesthetic is instantly recognizable in both paintings and prints. Only in the mid-1960's did Motherwell begin to introduce color to his work. His work hangs in the permanent collections of most major institutions globally and continues to be the subject of academic investigation. 

Questions about this artwork? Contact us or call +1.416.704.1720

"Red Samurai" (from Octavio Paz Suite)

USA, 1988

Lithograph and linocut printed in colours, on Chine appliqué to wove paper

Signed RM and numbered by the artist. 

Artist copyright stamp on verso. 

From an edition of 50.

13.9"H 10.75"W (image) 

25.47"H 21.38"W (sheet)

Very good condition.

Please note: This work is sold unframed.  

Publisher: The Limited Editions Club, New York 

Literature: Engberg & Banach 435; Belknap 374

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